Bratislava has COVID-19 semaphore

The Slovak capital has launched a warning system indicating when and what anti-epidemic measures to adopt.

Behind the decline of the Slovakia's economy is the COVID-19 pandemic.Behind the decline of the Slovakia's economy is the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source: Sme)

Bratislava has managed the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic thanks to rapidly implemented measures and the discipline of its citizens. As the novel coronavirus continues to be part of life, the city is getting prepared for possible further waves of this disease. One of the measures they are adopting is the new warning system, COVID Semaphore. It determines, based on an analysis of official epidemiological data, what stage of the epidemic Bratislava is in and what measures, if any, are needed to be implemented and when. They will help Bratislavans stay safe and also protect those who are most vulnerable.

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“We realise that the measures the city is implementing are often sensitive and significantly affect the life of Bratislavans,” said Katarína Rajčanová, spokesperson for the city council. “Thanks to the warning system we can immediately implement the measures recommended by experts for individual phases of the epidemic. This way we can affect the speed the COVID-19 spreads at.”

Bratislava city council prepared the warning system with its epidemiologist Martin Pavelka.

“The COVID Semaphore puts us at the very top of global metropolises,” said Pavelka, as cited by the press release. “We are the only ones in the whole of central and eastern Europe who calculate the effective reproduction number R based on epidemiological data.”

The Health Ministry is now preparing a similar nationwide system.

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The function of the monitoring system is to act as an early warning mechanism to prevent the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. After assessing individual indicators, the semaphore activates one of the five phases - from white for zero cases of illness within seven days via green, orange, red up to black, the most severe state when people are recommended to minimise their movements dramatically and refrain from physical contact with other people.

Among the monitored indicators are the reproduction number, number of active cases, available hospital beds and so-called superspreading events leading to at least five additional individuals contracting the disease at one time. These could be discos, conferences, rallies or celebrations.

“The city of Bratislava is currently in the second, green, phase, where the reproduction number R is below 1,” said Rajčanová. “If the indicators imply transfer to another phase of the epidemic, we will inform people about this.”

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